Oscar Nominations Attract Controversy (Again)

Oscar season has come to an end, following the freshly announced contenders for the glamorous annual award show, and with it comes the now expected internet outrage over what movies do or do not deserve the acclaim. This typical conflict over competing cinema is a harmless and welcomed aspect of award shows. However for many, this year’s contenders seem to speak at an inner bias and prevalent sexism as women and people of color are shunned from several key categories. 


The most prestigious and paramount award of the night is the heavily sought after Best Picture category. This year, like several before it, was filled to the brim with male lead and male directed films, with eight pictures that were directed by men (Joker, 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Marriage Story, The Irishman, JoJo Rabbit, Ford v Ferrari and Parasite), and only one that was directed by a woman (Little Women). Best Director also displayed a similar lack of female presence, only this time there was not a single woman nominee. It wasn’t just a gender imbalance that has left many angered. Racism and diversity, or lack thereof, has also dominated conversations as only one person of color (Cynthia Erivo for Harriet) scored a nomination for acting. 


The Oscars being criticized for the prominance of white male nominees is seemingly a staple of the award show. The topic of neglecting to consider people of color can be observed going back as far as 1988, when Eddie Murphy used his position as the Oscar host to confront the Academy by saying “I’m not going [to the Oscars] because they haven’t recognized black people in motion pictures.” And just a few years ago #OscarsSoWhite was trending, with Twitter users and celebrities alike uniting in a purposeful effort to encourage more consideration of those were not white men. 


 However while hundreds find themselves indignant every year come nominations, others feel that racial and gender sensitivity shouldn’t be considered. Author Stephen King argued that inclusion should not be a factor when choosing nominees saying, “…I would never consider diversity in matters of art; only quality. It seems to me to do otherwise would be wrong.” King’s comments were met with an onslaught of both criticism and support as the internet was once again rendered divided on how the Oscars should best be approached.


Regardless if it is frustration over a deemed undeserving win, a controversial choice of host or the now commonplace lack of diversity, the Academy Awards are an assured supplier of online conflict. Rather future Oscars will be associated with the same claims of negligence or will instead open a new chapter of inclusivity, one will have to just wait and see.